The Lobos defeated the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks 3-1, but the final score doesn’t reflect how competitive of a game it was: three of the four sets came down to the wire, but UNM still came out on top with a total of 17 ties and seven lead changes throughout the match.
Outside hitter Kaitlynn Biassou had 26 points, leading UNM in scoring. Anilee Sher led the Lobos in assists with 44 on the night. Freshman Lea Zurlinden was recently awarded with the conference’s Freshman of the Week award; she backed it up by scoring 10 points and having a kill percentage of .667.
The Lumberjacks served into the net to start the match, giving UNM immediate control of the ball. UNM was up 9-3 and a Zurlinden kill forced the Lumberjacks to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, Zurlinden scored back-to-back points to put the Lobos up 12-4.
NAU only gained possession after a Kali Wolf serving error following 4 straight points. At set point, NAU was able to go on a 3-0 run but UNM still controlled the set 25-11, taking the lead in the match 1-0.
UNM started with the serve for the second set and went on a 3-0 run with Wolf serving. NAU’s Neche Newton and Savannah Hasson kept the set competitive with a block. Avital Jaloba maintained the UNM lead with a dominante spike. Going into the media time out, UNM was up 15-10.
The Lobos lost their momentum, though, and allowed the Lumberbacks to go on a 5-2 run and later tie the game 21-21 behind a Jacobsen spike. UNM called a timeout and Wolf immediately scored at set point. Jaloba spiked to win the close set 25-23, putting UNM up 2-0.
NAU scored the first point of the third set. Madison Blanco was subbed in to serve when the game was 2-2. With Sher on the serve, the Lobos were able to take the lead 6-5, but NAU answered right back with a score from Kacee Moore.
Ariana Jamerson served an ace for the Lobo lead and caused a 3-0 run. NAU called a timeout with the score at 13-10. UNM continued the run with another Jamerson ace. A Wolf kill put the Lobos up by 3, but the Lumberjacks scored on the next serve. UNM was up just 18-16.
An ace from NAU’s Jordan Cherniss tied the game and, with Cherniss still on the serve, NAU was able to go on a run. UNM called a timeout down 20-18. Out of the timeout, Biassou scored to cut into the NAU lead. Still, NAU was able to stay in front, forcing UNM to take another timeout while down 23-20. UNM was able to score again out of the timeout with a Jaloba ace and, with Biassou serving an ace, NAU took a timeout up 23-22. NAU won their first set 25-23, but they were still down in the match 2-1.
The fourth set started with NAU scoring the first 2 points. UNM’s Alena Molden serving was able to take the lead and go on a run, but NAU battled back to take the lead with Newton tapping it over the net. The Lobos were able to keep the game close and, with Sher serving for UNM, came back within 1 point. NAU then called a timeout up 11-10.
Biassou tied the game 14-14, but NAU answered right back to claim the lead and go on a 4-2 run. UNM called a timeout down 21-18 and again scored right out of the timeout. UNM fought back to tie the game 23-23 with a Jaloba kill. NAU called a timeout, but the Lobos scored to set up match point and won the set 25-23, winning the match 3-1.
Head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar said the team enjoys the pressure of a tough match and welcomes the challenge ahead of their interconference play.
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“We love it. This is a team that wants to run towards that pressure,” Newman-Gonchar said.
The Lobos are now 8-1 on the season. The Lumberjacks were the last team UNM faced before starting interconference play. They next play in Albuquerque against Wyoming on Sept. 29.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10